Shades of Light

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Chapter 13

Caroline fired a few rounds into the field but couldn't determine her target's exact position and she might need her remaining munitions if he were to come back.

“He explained to me that a cut hurts like a hundred pricks, stretched in a line across the skin...and that a lot of blood comes out of it and that I should cry out from the pain it would cause. I've never seen that before, let alone had it happen to me!”

“And you never will,” Caroline said and pushed the young woman back in the direction of the forest they had come from. “I go on alone from here.”

“I've been invited to stay here,” she said, quietly.

“Good for you,” Caroline responded but softened a little. “You'd better go and warn them. Tell them to stay together and not let any of their children out sight again for at least...two days.”

Selene nodded and walked off.

“I see you made a friend,” a male voice said, causing Caroline to raise her weapon and quickly scan the environment. It took her a moment to realize the voice had come from the radio attached to her belt.

“You will show the proper respect, Knight,” a quieter, female voice said through the radio.

“Sir Caroline, presume?” the male voice continued. “Look at 200 degrees.”

She turned and saw two people coming her way. The taller of the two waved at her. He was a tall, lean man with short black hair and an equally dark skin. He wore the same kind of long coat that Isaac had worn. The smaller woman next to him was dressed in the standard Sisterhood of the Sun expedition gear. Her black hair was tied back in a knot. She looked as pale as a corpse in this realm's sunlight. Her demeanor was professional and she extended a formal greeting when they were close enough.

“My name is Sister Jemma and this is Sir Das of the Brotherhood of the Night,” Jemma said, hiding her insecurity behind formality, Caroline thought. She wouldn't have received any training beyond the basics of combat (which was still extensive for somebody of the Guardian class). Sir Das gave her a sloppy salute and adjusted the large machine that was attached to his shoulders with several bands. A large tank hung on his back. He seemed used to the weight and adopted a casual stance. Brothers of the Night really weren't ones for formality, it seemed.

“I am happy to see you, my fellow Guardians. Sir.” Caroline saluted. “I just had an encounter with the creature. It fled through the field. I suggest we give chase immediately.”

“If it is still hiding in the field this baby will drive it out,” Das said and patted the machine he was carrying.

“Such extreme measures are not...indicated yet,” Caroline said. “Though I think a flamethrower would make a good addition to our arsenal. Bullets have only seemed to slow it down so far.”

“In the Below, disease would've caught up with it by now, but I hear you don't do that up here.”

“It hasn't,” she said and looked out over the field.

“So, burn down the field it is.”

“I don't think so.”

Das and Jemma quickly recounted their journey, informing Caroline of some kind of succession crisis in the capital but little change in the lives of the majority of the natives. They had gotten a ride from some merchants who were still doing business as usual. As Caroline was telling about her journey with Isaac, Selene and one of older of the farmer's sons came up to them. They politely waited for her to finish her story after which they introduced themselves. The young man's name was John, apparently. Caroline quickly forgot it again. She once again instructed them to keep everybody close together and explained that she would leave with the two others to hunt down the monster. If they didn't find anything they would come back to the farm and check up on them. Selene said her (far too) heartfelt goodbye to Caroline and sent for John to get her gear. She thanked the young woman for her help and left without looking back.

Das proved to be an excellent tracker and managed to keep them going well into the night. They decided to keep going until the next night. Das and Jemma were still enjoying their energy boost from entering Asgard for the first time and Caroline now felt more determined than ever. She was also afraid that she might dream of the little boys blue, swollen face and his large, dead eyes.

“I've been finding it difficult to triangulate our position,” Jemma said after Das had pointed out yet another supposed sign of the creature's passing. Both women had long since given up on trying to understand what he was looking for. “It's almost like one of our beacons has ceased functioning.”

“Are they well-defended?” Das asked.

“The doors are locked,” Jemma said and Das just shook his head in response.

“Would the creature know their function?” Caroline asked. Das seemed to consider it for a moment.

“It was smart enough to breach our security and you said that it spoke to you,” he thought out loud. “It might simply recognize things as belonging to us and destroy them because of that.”

“The natives also haven't advanced beyond the Middle Ages since, well, the Middle Ages," Jemma added. “A radio tower would seem very out of place.”

“Do you construct them with the native resources?” Das asked.

“Of course.”

“Then it might not feel a natural revulsion as such but what you said could still apply.”

“Okay,” Jemma said, drawing out the word. “Would it be interested in the other 8 stations?”

“Possibly.”

“So, you don't know, is what you're saying.”

“I am not a psychologist or a tactician,” Das said, offended. “Does it really matter anyway?”

“We could beat him to them,” Caroline said. “At the very least, we could check up on them. How about we split up? I'll go to the closest station to the North, Jemma goes to the closest station to the South and you keep following the trail?”

“That sound agreeable,” Jemma said.

“Okay,” Das said simply and the two women broke off in separate directions while he continued on.

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